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Overall Rating
3.25

Awesome42.86%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 4.33%
Pretty Bad: 17.32%
Total Crap: 26.41%

12 reviews, 159 user ratings


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Phantom of the Opera, The (2004)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Does to musicals what 'Bridges of Madison County' did to literature"
1 stars

After managing to successfully avoid its every stage incarnation since its 1986 debut, I now find myself in a position where I have to deal with “The Phantom of the Opera”, the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the classic Gaston Leroux Gothic horror novel. Having experienced it, the best thing I can say about it is that it proved that my instincts were correct and that I hadn’t completely wasted the past two decades. This.is the kind of botch that makes you scratch your head and wonder if it is possible that 80 million people, the worldwide audience total touted in the press material, actually could be wrong.

It should be said right off that I do not object to the original source material in any way, one of those elemental stories that will continue to inspire people as long as they are around to tell lurid tales of forbidden love, dark revenge and madness. In fact, my own personal DVD collection contain no less than five cinematic variations on the premise-the legendary 1925 version with Lon Chaney, the lavish 1943 Universal musical version with Claude Rains and Nelson Eddy, Brian De Palma’s hilarious 1974 rock-music riff “Phantom of the Paradise” and two different versions from Italian horror icon Dario Argento, his official 1996 adaptation (starring daughter Asia and utilizing the erotic Gothic approach of Francis Coppola’s “Dracula”) and “Opera”, his gory 1987 modern-day spin on the material (which nevertheless came closer to the feel of the original story than the legitimate version). Although each one has its pros and cons, they all take distinct and intriguing approaches to the material while still managing to do justice to Leroux’s original creation.

In other words, the exact opposite of what Webber and director Joel Schumacher have done to it here, based on the evidence on the screen. Although it vaguely follows the outlines of the original story, a deformed madman (Gerard Butler) living in the bowels of a lush Paris opera house falls in love with pretty soprano Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum) and will do anything to further her career, only to be driven to new heights of insanity and revenge when she is also wooed by childhood sweetheart Raoul (Patrick Wilson), it does so in such a scrappy, piecemeal version that you can’t begin to fathom how anyone unfamiliar with the material could possibly figure out what was going on at any given moment. At 143 minutes (and this is the kind of film that makes you feel every single one of them), the storyline feels curiously thin and wanting. Even the versions by Argento, who is legendary for throwing narrative structure to the wind in a heartbeat, had stronger story structures than the one provided by Webber and Schumacher.

Of course, a lot of that narrative had to be removed to make room for the songs-a fair trade until you actually get a load of them. I don’t claim to have any great working knowledge of contemporary musical theater but I was always under the impression that people went to musicals for the memorable songs-how the wretched lyrics and score on display here could have possibly formed the basis of the most popular stage musical of all time is beyond me. Webber’s basic approach to composing a score seems to be choosing three notes and then playing them loudly over and over for two hours; fifty years ago, this would have gotten him a job scoring Roger Corman movies-now it makes him the toast of the theatrical world. There is not a single distinct melody to be heard at all-this is the kind of bland, instantly forgettable music that you normally associate with ice-skating shows, only done with a bombast that even Meat Loaf might question. Equally unmemorable are the lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe; the material cries out for the likes of someone like Tim Rice, whose smart, sharp lyrics helped make Webber’s “Evita” bearable. I finally realized how bad the songs were about halfway through the film when I had to leave in the middle of one interminable song to answer the call of nature; the sound system inside the lavatory was playing a piece of schlock-pop by teen-queen Lindsay Lohan and it soon dawned on me that there was no real difference in quality between that song and the ones going on in the auditorium.

The music is so lousy, in fact, that it leads me to believe that the millions of people who have attended this show have done so for reasons other than the songs. I can see how the sheer spectacle of the thing, especially the infamous climax with the crashing chandelier, could be impressive when performed live. However, anyone hoping that Schumacher was able to create a cinematic equivalent for that excitement will be sorely disappointed. This is one of the dullest-looking musicals in recent memory-it lacks the flamboyance of something like “Moulin Rouge” and if you can’t be flamboyant in something revolving around the opera, an entire art form based around outsized emotions, perhaps you should just give up and let someone else have a chance. In the entire film, there is exactly a single striking visual moment and even that bit is stolen outright from Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast”. Other than that, the simple act of watching the film is a chore-everything is ridiculously overscaled (a penniless pauper is buried in a tomb that would have Grant rolling over in his out of jealousy) or just plain ridiculous-exactly where does the Phantom house and feed the horse that he apparently keeps with him in the catacombs of the opera house? Even the famous chandelier scene falls flat; while it may have been impressive on stage, it is just another big piece of broken glass on film and its destruction is oddly anti-climactic, especially when you consider the fact that the film still has twenty-odd minutes to go after it crashes.

And yet, all of these flaws could have been overcome if the title role had been properly cast with someone who could simultaneously project a sense of menace, charisma and raw sexuality while still demonstrating legitimate musical chops. Antonio Banderas, for example, would have been perfect for the role and he could have single-handedly saved the entire enterprise. Instead, the part has been wildly miscast with the aggressively bland Gerard Butler, the man that you forgot starred in “Dracula 2000” and “Tomb Raider 2” the minute you left the multiplex. He is simply terrible-the guy who takes your order at Applebee’s has more charisma than him. As the dull-but-good suitor Raoul, he might have been passable but as the Phantom, he is a total botch. Put it this way-the side of the Phantom’s face that is covered by his mask should not be his most expressive side.

There are exactly two aspects to “Phantom of the Opera” that don’t hurt too bad when you think about them. One is Emmy Rossum-you may remember her as the dead girl in “Mystic River”-as Christine; she is charming, beautiful, has a lovely singing voice and is perhaps the one truly intelligent casting choice in the entire enterprise. The other is the wildly flamboyant work by Minnie Driver as the monstrous diva Carlotta. Driver seems to have realized just how ridiculous the entire enterprise is and delivers an ultra-campy performance, complete with an Italian accent that even Chico Marx might have questioned (every time she appears, you expect her to start ordering hard-boiled eggs), that is as over-the-top as it is entertaining.

Beyond Rossum and Driver, “The Phantom of the Opera” is the kind of bloated disaster that people are talking about when they say that they hate musicals. In fact, it does for musicals for the genre what “The Bridges of Madison County” did for literature and Olive Garden does for Italian cooking; it debases a perfectly good art form with a grotesquely “classy” approximation that could only appeal those without any real taste for the genuine pleasures that such things can provide in their pure form. The best musicals can make you leave the theatre with a song in your heart-this one only inspires heartburn, a headache and a vague sense of relief that Schumacher at least resisted putting nipples on the Phantom suit.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11360&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/22/04 23:38:08
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User Comments

10/04/12 keith miron Buy the soundtrack instead ! 2 stars
5/10/11 Stephanie One of my favorites. Beautifully done and sung. Super moving. 5 stars
8/28/09 julie Loved it! Gerard Butler is so sexy! 5 stars
1/16/09 Anonymous. beautiful singing, emmy rossum really shines :] 4 stars
11/30/08 Samantha Pruitt great music, good acting, great visuals, the end was sooo sad! 4 stars
5/07/08 Luci<3 Gerard's way of singing so gutterally and beautiful made a great asset to the Phantom. 5 stars
4/30/08 Lillyshell I have seen this movie several time, I bought the movie. It is great, Music and acting. 5 stars
3/19/08 David Cohen Over-the-top tale of a whiny, murderous extortionist, what's not to like? Everything! 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Remember,this comes from a man who made Jesus & cats sing in Broadway musicals.Be warned!!! 1 stars
10/15/07 fools&#9835;gold O, Webber in all his boringness and out-of-date-dness. 1 stars
9/04/07 shinn so brilliant ,awesome ,unique TO ALL: just understand the movie ,you1l see it!! OK!! 5 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Cinematography and lighting were spectacular.Acting overly dramatic.Bursting into song-Ug! 1 stars
8/13/07 Mary Beth Loved this movie! The reviewer is an idiot. 5 stars
8/04/07 TANCP It was alright. Phantom's make up and personality were too weak though. The stage is better 4 stars
6/25/07 R.W. Welch Good yarn and score but overlong and overdone. C+ 3 stars
4/29/07 clare this is the best movie ever, all the critics reviews are stupid. 5 stars
3/10/07 swtangel great movie, excellent music. 4 stars
2/28/07 Stanley Thai One great musical but not many interesting songs. 5 stars
1/16/07 Idina Badly sung, badly acted and TERRIBLY directed. 1 stars
1/10/07 Amanda Everything about the film was outstanding! Loved Every minute of it! 5 stars
1/04/07 sargon I watched this film stoned as fuck and I still realized it was quality, surefire shit. 1 stars
11/27/06 sirina good movie though why fight over her she is so ugly! 4 stars
10/25/06 Anne Well this was my first real exposure to Phantom, and I thought it was easy to understand. 5 stars
10/03/06 Danielle It sucked! They couldn't sing! Read the book it had almost no romance. 1 stars
9/23/06 marni The only problem I had with it is the fact that Emmy Rossum dosen't sing properly. 5 stars
9/02/06 Clare Michaud I thoought that this movie was fabulous the music was unbelievable. I am a huge fan. 5 stars
8/29/06 Griselle The movie was awesome, and the actors did a stupendes job. I'm a really big fan. 5 stars
8/16/06 xxx A beautiful musical! I absoultly loved it! 5 stars
8/14/06 Addi Sad Phantom fan here- liked 2 scenes; hated the off-key singing 2 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist 1st 1/2, exquisite,2nd 1/2, not how he became the phantom;took me out of the film. 2 stars
5/29/06 Ash I found the movie as exciting as the theater shows. 5 stars
5/28/06 kay one of the greatest musicals i've ever seen 5 stars
5/19/06 drydock54321 something a romantic would love 4 stars
5/14/06 Elaine Fulford I've seen this film about 40 times now, and it still appeals to me. My 9 & 4 year olds love 5 stars
5/10/06 sweetgrrl1972 *cringe* This movie is cheesier than cheddar, except not in a good way. 1 stars
4/13/06 Susan I think it is one of my favorite movies of all time. 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Pretty true to the broadway musical, but drags at times. 4 stars
3/08/06 Katie Beautiful music. Gerald Butler was a great phantom 4 stars
2/11/06 Neil Outstanding...a marvel in its own right...a lush Gothic romance based on famous novel... 5 stars
1/30/06 the laughing man One of the best films I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/13/06 Tiffany Love love love it. The movie does everything that they TRY to do on stage...great job! 5 stars
1/05/06 LRWN An unbelieveably outstanding film! 5 stars
11/13/05 Rebecca Davies It was absolutely beautiful I luved it! 5 stars
10/17/05 E jimenez Gorgeous film. The best musical movie I have ever seen. 5 stars
10/08/05 AARON CHAMBERS GERARD BUTLER IS NO MICHAEL CRAWFORD 3 stars
10/04/05 Paige Emmy is my romotel and the phantom is so hot 5 stars
10/01/05 chang great! 5 stars
9/25/05 Joan R I absolutely loved this film. Gerard Butler made a truly wonderful Phantom. 5 stars
9/18/05 Abbey this was one of the best movies have ever seen 5 stars
9/15/05 Samantha Schaeffer it fucking sucked....just kidding it was awsome 1 stars
9/13/05 ann coloma it's really great and heart-warming 5 stars
9/02/05 Alyse Pilcher the best movie EVER!!!! 5 stars
8/29/05 Emma Dunham Fantastic!! there no amount of words to explain the brilliance of this Film 5 stars
8/06/05 Karleigh I think it is the best movie in the world... I loved it 5 stars
7/16/05 montanya@bellsouth.net loved the show loved the movie more 5 stars
7/05/05 Becky Hamman Absolutely wonderful movie! I love Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson! 5 stars
6/23/05 Lucy This movie was wonderful compared to the Broadway version. Excellent acting and script 5 stars
6/19/05 Tasha EXCELLENT 5 stars
6/08/05 Callie Coulson This movie was great it was so fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/05/05 aryiel superb 5 stars
6/04/05 amanda carpio the new movie is an awesome movie! i enjoyed it and roul is really hot! :) and the phantom 5 stars
6/01/05 Steve Melenwick Silly critics. What did they expect for a movie version. It Satisfies. 3 stars
5/31/05 Carol Price It have been a Better movie if Gerard Butler did only act and not sing 3 stars
5/30/05 Danielle I loved it. The music, the actors, evrything was incredible 5 stars
5/29/05 Suffering Spouse Excruciatingly awful 1 stars
5/27/05 Gunit worst film ever. 1 stars
5/26/05 Jazz Main casts all sucked! Y is everyone whining in this movie? Xpecially Christine n Phantom 1 stars
5/25/05 Candice DeGon Man i take drama for a class and i really loved this movie, it was beautiful! Bravo! 5 stars
5/25/05 Tara Adkins I think the movie was great and I dont think that you guys know what your talking about 5 stars
5/24/05 T.S Beautiful. It took my breath away. Love, excitement, tragety amd sorrow.I loved it. 5 stars
5/23/05 Bradley Love it!! Completely awesome. Everyone even does their own singing cept Carlotta.(Driver) 5 stars
5/17/05 od thrillingly, excruciatingly awesome!!!!!! 5 stars
5/17/05 sofi absolutly amazing! A must see! 5 stars
5/11/05 The Phantom Phreak Gaston Leroux would probably like it--'nuff said. 5 stars
5/09/05 Meggie (Insert Profanity Here) I can't believe what I just read! It was a wonderful film 5 stars
5/09/05 roy butcher a bit of an endurance test 3 stars
5/07/05 Anna I loved the stage play, and parts of the movie are beautiful. Parts. 2 stars
5/06/05 ELI W/e!!!!! I don't care if they can't act. Emmy and Patrick are AWSOME! 4 stars
5/05/05 Arion Smith Butler's Phantom awesome-beautiful voice, wonderfully acted, see it and judge for yourself. 5 stars
5/04/05 Louise its excellent you cold hearted critic 5 stars
5/03/05 Anna Shipper if someone enjoys musicals, this is the film for you + Butler is AWESOME as the Phantom 5 stars
5/03/05 Kristina Williams it DID NOT suck. I've never seen the damn play and I LOVED it. 5 stars
4/25/05 david troop brilliant 4 stars
4/24/05 B Stack The reviewers are blind to a good movie and talented stars. This was an A+ 5 stars
4/21/05 stani my favourite film.The best film of all. 5 stars
4/20/05 Elena Erofeeva No acting at all by the main personages 1 stars
4/19/05 Dolores DiCenzo Boring, awful 1 stars
4/15/05 Sparko Emmy Rossum can't act;she's too ugly 1 stars
3/29/05 Tyrantis Sucked the spirit of the play and the book right out. 1 stars
3/26/05 Denise so good 5 stars
3/23/05 Victoria Ross I enjoyed it, although live was better 4 stars
3/10/05 Fake Name Here Phanaticly adore it. 5 stars
3/07/05 Dani Dani i loved it! best movie ever music was awesome it was so sad but so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/07/05 Doris Nelson I loved it. Thought it was great. Saw the stage production in Chicago twice 5 stars
3/05/05 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter The Desire for Lust or for the sake of attention was for the Phantom; Raoul has True Love. 5 stars
2/26/05 Brandy I thought it was visually beautiful but a little long-winded. 4 stars
2/22/05 Amber Hammerschmidt Though GBs voice may not be astounding it is good for the role, and his acting was astoundi 5 stars
2/21/05 Racquel It was the BEST MOVIE Gerard Butler gave an Extrordinary Performance!!!!!! 5 stars
2/20/05 Steve Michaud Recommended only for fans of the stage show; others would do well to stay away 3 stars
2/20/05 Zoorah Awesome moving film 5 stars
2/15/05 sarah wade Best musical I've ever seen. Gerard is so georgous. 5 stars
2/15/05 barbara smith I thought the music was absolutely enchanting. the movie itself gave me goosebumps! 5 stars
2/15/05 BrianWilly I liked it, I thought it was great. 5 stars
2/13/05 M Sands you guys who thinks its crap you no nothing about musicals,rouge was awfully pathetic 5 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle great movie 5 stars
2/12/05 Jason I loved it, I've seen it 5 times so far!!! 5 stars
2/10/05 David Bennett High Production values 3 stars
2/09/05 Lisa Jochelson I am a fan of the play, so while the movie wasn't great, it wasn't too bad either. 3 stars
2/08/05 Kristy Edwards This was the best movie! I saw it 5 times, and will buy the movie the day it comes out!!! 5 stars
2/06/05 Dan Carter I dont no why everyone slates this film, its fantastic, best musical film in years 5 stars
2/02/05 Lynde Foy Not my cup of tea 1 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg I guess you love it or hate it. I loved it. 5 stars
2/01/05 beth LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe Best movie I've seen all year, I cried when it turned to color in the beginning. Great! 5 stars
1/28/05 Heather Charles You get more out of it than the play. It is a wonderful movie. 5 stars
1/26/05 bob The is the greatest movie I have ever seen 5 stars
1/24/05 brittney i absolutely loved this movie! I fell in love with the music and the costumes. 5 stars
1/24/05 Nick Awesome 5 stars
1/23/05 Kim Everything about the movie was magical! It made going to the movies worth going again! 5 stars
1/22/05 jynn i thought the movie had no impact at all.. nice music, but it was empty. 2 stars
1/22/05 Kristina Williams Why are critics ragging this flick? I just saw it twice in a row and LOVED it! 5 stars
1/21/05 Kish Harris Absolutely fantastic. have seen it 4 times. Sets and music sumptious , phantom gorgeous!!!! 5 stars
1/18/05 Maureen Great movie! 5 stars
1/18/05 Kyle Beston I thought it was a total crap but it turned out to be one of the best films i have ever saw 5 stars
1/16/05 Neutrino What's wrong with you people? It's stunning masterpiece!!! Emmy Rossum just an angel. 5 stars
1/14/05 Yellow Best movie I've seen in 2004/05 (so far) 5 stars
1/14/05 Jeanette Myers Excellent Music 4 stars
1/12/05 Stacey Peachfuzz Not even "funny" bad; just plain miserable. Nice high notes, Gerard. [vomit sound] 1 stars
1/11/05 pam If you don't like the music, then don't go see it. I thought it was great. 5 stars
1/10/05 Kathryn Critics are the ones who blow! I've seen it 5 times!!! 5 stars
1/10/05 Lee I totally loved it - from the breathtaking scenery to Butler as Phantom 5 stars
1/08/05 Allison Couldn't be better - love Gerard Butler 5 stars
1/08/05 Mel Better than Chicago. 5 stars
1/07/05 TyrantisTerror If you don't have a good phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, you don't have a good movie. 2 stars
1/06/05 Nessa Fantastic movie! Erik Childress is a dickhead 5 stars
1/06/05 Green Gremlin a great musical is trashed. 2 stars
1/06/05 Naka Oh, hell no. 1 stars
1/06/05 Banzai Overzealous phanatics are nuts. This film is blatantly terrible. 1 stars
1/05/05 Roger Johnson Critics are nuts. The film is fantastic. 5 stars
1/05/05 Kim Anderson not a note of real music in 2 and a quarter hours. 1 stars
1/05/05 Colleen Actually quite good, and i usually dont like film adaptations of musicals. 4 stars
1/05/05 Jim R. Hands down, the most underrated film of the year. 5 stars
1/05/05 TomF Tim Rice had NOTHING to do with this - this is Webber's baby 2 stars
1/05/05 skeweditalian Les Miz can kick POTO's ass any day of the week 1 stars
1/05/05 Cat A film about a Phantom of the Opera that can't SING!!! 1 stars
1/04/05 PLou I was captivated from beginning to end. The artistry & cinematography were awesome. 5 stars
1/03/05 mickey c If you're a fan of the musical - you'll love it! And that's how it should be!!! 5 stars
1/01/05 Alice Ahlers too much of everything except emotion and not enough of that 1 stars
12/31/04 TyrantisTerror The only problem I had with this movie was how the phantom was portrayed. 2 stars
12/28/04 Deanna In Indiana Phan-atics will adore, and we know a good musical 5 stars
12/27/04 BUNNY LOVED IT ON STAGE, ADORED THE MOVIE 5 stars
12/27/04 charles kaye enjoyed moviemusic and plot 4 stars
12/27/04 Bleh Pure crap. 1 stars
12/26/04 DM A disappointment, but really not all that bad. 3 stars
12/25/04 frank awsome 5 stars
12/25/04 jcjs something lacking for sure 3 stars
12/25/04 chris shoot me... i adored it 5 stars
12/24/04 mike awesome film. Brilliant. Phenominal. 5 stars
12/23/04 Daveman Dreadful, recommended only to Webber die-hards... and you people are weird anyway. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Dec-2004




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